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First of all, I would like to thank my parents for giving me the freedom to do anything, especially to bear and support me. Our parents work very hard to give us a better life. And also thanks to all my friends, teachers, and aspirants here on GO, Special thanks to Arjun Sir.
My name is Nikhil Dhama, I got AIR 8 (980 score) in GATE CS 2021, This was my second attempt with full-time preparation.
Last year my rank was 1531, I guess this is enough introduction for me, I’ll get to the point now…


How did I prepare for GATE 2020?

I followed some coaching material(freely available, wasn't enrolled) blindly, I won’t name it here, Actually it was all my fault all along not following some good content, I did nothing else, not even pyqs. This turned out to be a big mistake. I realized it later after losing a year. Now After preparing again I think it’s for the best that I didn’t get a better rank last year, otherwise, I would have gone for post-graduation with half misconceptions in my mind and that would be a disaster. I didn’t even deserve 1531 rank last year, it was too good for my preparation level, preparation was way poor (soon you will know why I’m saying so).


What makes me drop and prepare again?

I enjoy learning stuff, I like solving mathematical problems with low-sound music :p, so I was sure for post-graduation. For this reason, I did not sit for campus placements, because I didn’t want to have a second thought if I had a placement in my hand. I left no choice for myself other than a drop or taking some college with this rank only...


Why didn’t I apply for some other tests like PGEE, ISI, CMI, last year instead of repeating?

No doubt there are many good colleges in India, but after giving Gate 2020, I realized my concepts are not that strong, I’m missing something, and second I could do much better. This wasn’t my best, I wanted to try again.

I decided right after the result of GATE 2020 that I will prepare again. But the first step was to analyze the mistakes I have done throughout my preparation and during those 3 hours inside the examination hall.


Mistakes I did last year...

The first mistake I made was to trust in the coaching material and their false claims, I got a bit lazy, the second big mistake was not solving pyqs.
I was overconfident last year, during that 3 hours I could not even read all question, left 8-10 questions unread. This shows a lack of practice and time management, as I invested lots of time on few particular problems, that turned out to be wrong later :( Maths is my strong suit, and I couldn’t solve a simple calculus problem there. So I had to work on all these things and improve myself.


Steps I took to counter those mistakes...

I checked who is going to conduct GATE 2021, found out it’ll be IITB most probably. I had a very bad experience with JEE Adv 2015, I knew what these people usually do. This gave me a hard feeling that what if I fail again? anyhow I got through that.. and started looking for the solution to my mistakes.. decided to read books thoroughly this time.
I researched for 10-15 days and gathered all my study material for the preparation. My first stopping point was GO, found almost everything I need. Enrolled in the test series as early as I can (gave tests from GO and applied only). and improved on each of them one by one.


What was my schedule for preparation for GATE 2021?

I started slowly around 4 to 6 hours a day, enjoyed the rest of the time, watched some movie or anything, then shifted gear in July and changed my preparation time from daytime to nights.. started studying from approx 3 PM till I could, with small breaks in between. Every day studied at-least till 4 AM, for some days I stretched it till 7 AM, depending upon how much interest I have in that topic. This was my daily schedule, with minimum full-day breaks.

I divided the weekdays into two parts, Mon-Fri study with the same schedule, Sat-Sun solve pyqs from the topics I covered earlier, usually a different topic from what I studied during that week and give a test or revise everything I studied during the week or any topic if I got stuck in pyqs. This way I was doing both preparation and revision side by side.

Took a break for 20-25 days in Oct, had to give final sem exams.. started back again.. and finished the syllabus by the end of Nov. Only a few maths topics were left... I was already confident in those topics. I started giving tests late, from the beginning of Nov, I don’t suggest you do it. I had less time and had to cover lots of stuffs.. also sharp memory helps me keep things longer in my mind. Was doing well in tests.

By the end of Dec, I was done with the full syllabus, one-time revision, and all pyqs.
Changed my schedule from Jan, admit card was out, got the morning session, so I had to adapt myself to that timing.. took me 15-20 days for it... In Jan, gave a mock test almost every single day, analyzed my mistakes during the day, and revised in the evening. Every third day of the month I solved one previous year GATE paper as a mock test (from 2011 to 2018 at sets).

Appeared in GO mocks, almost everybody here knows about those.. took a test by Ruturaj Sir 2 days before the exam.. just to have the feeling of a hard paper and be ready for the worst-case as I was already expecting a hard paper.
Gave all these tests for time management, GO subject tests were an informative and conceptual test for me.

NOTE: you need not follow this schedule at all, I like studying at night.. and wanted to read everything in a short time, that’s why this schedule.. make your schedule at your convenience, which suits you the best.


What resources did I follow?

You can find them here.

While reading books, I found out I had many misconceptions and was lacking basic details of almost all of the concepts.. that’s why I didn’t deserve any better rank than 1531 last year.


How much stress was I having during preparation?

You can imagine by reading my schedule... side by side I was going through emotional stuff which needs to be taken care of, I decided to keep all such thoughts aside and kept focusing on my preparation, sometimes I even started to feel like a failure that I couldn’t do anything and many more stuff.. but I made it through, the good thing is I enjoyed studying all these concepts that’s why I never got bored or exhausted with my schedule. I wanted to give my best.. and I was targeting 90+ marks, so it was all worth it. I would like to add that there was a time once where I couldn’t read or study anything for 8-10 days, it’s alright as long as you make a comeback, also it’s necessary to take small breaks, I used to play online cards and video games, watch movies during my breaks. Just find your comfort zone.


How did those 3 hours inside the examination hall go?

To be honest I wasn’t feeling like I’m going for the exam until I reached the center and sat on my allocated seat... Started to get some butterflies after sitting there.. plus I prepared myself to attempt the exam in a single pass without revisiting too many questions.

It’s almost 9:30 AM and the exam starts, directly went for CS section, the first question was based on the covariance of two parameters of a distribution, damn I left this topic just because it was not required for GATE, I knew one part of it.. but couldn’t take a risk of -0.66.. so just left it.

10 mins past I have seen 4 questions, only 1 attempted.. situation got a little bit tensed now. I closed the question window so that my mind won’t divert by looking at how much I have attempted.. started attempting one by one.. with 15 mins spare, I was at the end of the paper, I opened the window again, and felt a bit relaxed, only 9 questions were unattempted.. attempted 5 more in that 15 mins (4 of them turn out to be correct).. so in total, I attempted 61 questions, 52 correct 9 incorrect, 8 out of 9 are MSQ or NAT so no negative here. Only 0.66 negative marks in one question.

Final result

The first official answer key was out, one big debate on one aptitude question, the official key was against me ;-; It could cost me a lot, but finally things settled in my favour, and both answers were given right in the final key.

I got 80.33 marks in set 1 (before normalization). Now I just had to wait for the final result.

Got AIR 8 in the final result.. still feels like I’m dreaming :))



I hope this covers almost everything. If anyone has any queries, feel free to ask.

My response sheet

posted Mar 21 in Preparation Experience
edited Jun 9 by


@prajjwalsingh_11  From these lectures I wrote only important stuff which I might forget later, I made detailed notes from books only.

Thanks @himanshu2021
Congrats Nikhil!

I started my preparation for Gate 2022 and the doubts I have are:

1. Is coaching really important given it's all online now and I feel self study is good. Why I'm asking is my schedule aligns with yours almost but this is my first attempt and I wanted to know if I'm missing out doing self study

2. Are those workbooks those institutes sell worth solving or are they just PYQs mashed into a book?

3. And till which year did you solve PYQs? I mean from 2011 and onwards papers or way back from 2000s?

4. And is it better to solve PYQs right after completion of a topic? Or wait till a subject is completed?

5. And I see you did self study when you were feeling down what did you do to get yourself back up?

I'm sorry it's a long set of questions and once again congrats've given me courage and strength for gate 2022.

Thanks @

1. No, it's not necessary. Self study is best way to prepare. But don't take my words. Some students requires constant motivation. Ask this question to yourself, if you feel you don't need coaching then you don't need it.. be honest with yourself.

2. I don't have any workbook from any coaching institute (last year as well I only studied from freely available materials), so can't comment anything here.  But i would say solving pyqs is still will be my first priority. If I'll need extra question.. I'll look for book exercises before going to coaching handbooks (just my opinion).

3. once Solved every single question in GO PDFs including TIFR qns (except general aptitude part, I did nothing for GA section, I'll suggest not to skip it prepare for GA section as well if you are not very good with maths, which was the case with me) , and full paper from 2011-2018 once again as mock.

4. you can solve pyqs topic-wise, but if you can't solve it in first attempt, don't jump to see the solution right away.. give it few honest attempts.. can read that topic again if you still can't solve.. at last take a hint from discussion then try solving it again. Only look for the full solution when you think you are not getting the topic right. and mark such qns to solve again at a later point of time.. most likely you'll forget that topic.. it's better to revisit and revise

5. I played games.. talk to friends.. go outside for a walk.. watch a good movie.. listen to music.... and a constant reminder that I have to do this for myself...


suggestion for movies 😛:

a. The Imitation Game

b. A beautiful mind

c. Good will hunting

d. Inception

e. Interstellar

f. Ford vs Ferrari ..

these all are motivating for me.


few nice songs:

a. Not afraid : Eminem

b. Remember the Name: Fort Minor

c. Believer : Imagine Dragons

d. Demons : Imagine Dragons

e. Bad Liar : Imagine Dragons

f. Only Time: Enya


All the best  :)


That cleared all my doubts and a bonus too with the movies and songs lol..Thanks Nikhil!
@Nikhil_dhama Bro, Which chapters should i study in Forouzan book, please mention relevent chapters for gate.

Hey man..I just downloaded GO PDF for Math and there's many questions like around 637 for maths itself. So it felt a little overwhelming and I wanted to know how you solved that many questions. Put exactly, I would like to know how many PYQs you solved for weekdays and weekends and how many months it took. And is it normal that I'm struggling to solve first 10 questions in a topic and also 1 in 15 questions next? Should I go back to concepts? And also while solving PYQs did you simulate exam environments like no notes or you also used notes while solving?

I used to solve around 120-150 qns on weekends depending on the topics I'm doing.., for weekdays used to solve only a few just to get the topic. Solved most of the pyqs on weekends only.

Yeah, it's normal getting stuck on some questions. If you are getting stuck on easy problems then you should focus on concepts.. you might be going wrong somewhere, but some qns are really good... it's okay if you don't get them on the first attempt... so it depends from qn to qn.

I usually prefer not to refer to any notes or anything while solving problems.. but not exactly the exam environment because had no time restrictions, still, I tried to solve each problem as fast as I can. In the second attempt, I solved them in a complete test environment available here on the GO Exams section.

 Congrats Bro...

have you solved any assignments from other university like MIT or etc?

and if followed then can you name it or attach the link of that.

@Abhishek Tank, yeah i solved some extra assignments,I think most links are available in bookmark.html file given with resources.
Can you please share your Gate response sheet? It will be a source of inspiration. Please share it!


added link for the same.👍🏻


Thanks a ton!